‘I’m back!’: Oprah celebrates Wes Moore, praises state where she got her start

Published on: January 18, 2023 4:00 PM EST|Updated on: January 18, 2023 8:51 PM EST

Oprah Winfrey hours Gov. Wes Moore after she introduced the governor during his inauguration as the First African-American governor for the State of Maryland, at the Maryland State House, in Annapolis, MD, Wednesday, January 18, 2023.
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After Wes Moore was sworn in as Maryland’s first Black governor Wednesday afternoon in Annapolis, Oprah Winfrey addressed the crowd.

“I’m back!” she announced to cheers.

Winfrey, the talk show host and publisher, explored her own years living in Maryland as a young woman working at WJZ-TV, and introduced Moore as a man with a lifelong commitment to service.

The two met in 2010, she said, when Winfrey interviewed him about his book, “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates.”

In the years since, they’ve become friends. Winfrey supported the new governor during his campaign, narrating an ad and co-hosting a virtual fundraiser.

Moore first told Winfrey he wanted to run for governor on Jan. 6, 2021, as former President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to prevent the Electoral College votes from being certified.

Winfrey was watching the scene on CNN as she spoke with Moore.

“Look at what’s happening,” she told him. “You want to run in this climate?”

“And he said, ‘Exactly. Exactly,’” Winfrey recalled.

Moore has had many titles — “author, army captain, CEO, and now governor” — but his work has never changed, Winfrey said.

“This might be his first day as an elected official, but Wes Moore has been a public servant his entire adult life,” Winfrey said, mentioning his time as a captain in the 82nd Airborne Division and his work helping families in need for the Robin Hood Foundation.

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The state of Maryland, Winfrey emphasized, has been important to her life.

Winfrey recalled moving to Maryland from Nashville when she was 22 to co-anchor WJZ’s 6 p.m. newscast. During her first week, she walked around Baltimore and saw herself on billboards and buses.

“And a question on the billboards and buses said: ‘What is an Oprah?’” she recalled.

She was young, “green behind the ears.” It was her first time away from home, and her first time away from family. At the time, Winfrey said, she didn’t know the answer to that question herself.

“But, I will tell you something: Maryland is where I figured it out,” she said. “The eight years that I lived here were some of the most significant years of my life.”

She found herself and her professional calling as a co-anchor of “People Are Talking,” she said. She found community, and some of her closest friends, at Bethel AME Church.

“This state is something special. It’s a place where so many others have done and will do exactly what I did — plant the seeds of their wildest dreams and watch those seeds grow into reality. Maryland is full to the brim with opportunity; it was back then, it is now,” Winfrey said. “And I know that with Wes Moore as your governor, Maryland’s best days lie ahead.”

“I trust you,” said Winfrey, turning toward Moore at the end of her speech. “I trust your vision, I trust your leadership.”